Limited legislative appetite for overhaul of ticket purchasing regulations

By Published On: May 18th, 2022Categories: Capitol Notes

Before state lawmakers are scheduled to leave Albany on June 2, they will likely address a recurring question: Do they approve a one-year extension of regulations for live-event ticket sales that expire on June 30 or do they attempt to beef up the consumer protections in the law?

For more than a year, State Sen. James Skoufis, an Orange County Democrat, has been loudly advocating for changes designed to make the ticket purchasing process more transparent and consumer friendly, including defining what constitutes “reasonable” fees on tickets, stricter licensing standards for ticket brokers and upfront disclosure of ticket fees.

But it takes two to tango at the Capitol, and the Assembly’s point person on this issue, Manhattan Democrat Danny O’Donnell, doesn’t appear to see the landscape the same way as his Senate colleague, based on an interview with The Capitol Pressroom.

For instance, O’Donnell is content with the existing ambiguity in law surrounding what constitutes a reasonable fee, arguing that consumers ultimately define what is a reasonable fee based on what they’re willing to pay.

“If you click on a ticket that costs $1, with $700 fees, you get to say, ‘that’s not reasonable, and I’m not paying you.’ And if that’s what happens, and I believe that people who are trying to sell it are going to turn around and lower their fees,” the assemblyman said.

Asked about whether the state should require secondary-market websites, like StubHub, to disclosure how much a ticket was originally purchased for, O’Donnell questioned why this would matter to consumers who want to attend an event.

While O’Donnell did express an interest in strengthening the penalties in state law for the illegal use of bots for purchasing tickets, he made the case that – in the light of the pandemic’s effect on live events – it was too soon to judge the effectiveness of the last changes to the regulations governing ticket sales, which were negotiated in 2018 by the Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans.

Speaking to The Capitol Pressroom in May of last year, Skoufis said, “The current laws, in my estimation, are still tilted too much to some industry players.”

Chuck Bell, of Consumer Reports, described the proposed changes from Skoufis as a “huge win for consumers.

The live-ticketing industry was the subject of a 2021 Senate hearing, when senators heard from representatives of Ticketmaster, StubHub, and industry stakeholders about ticket fees, held back tickets and much more.